Social Media Optimization or SMO isn’t as well defined of a discipline as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) due to how many different ways this type of optimization can be perceived. With Google now defining and dedicating part of their search algorithm to the value of social sharing, as website owners we now must now not only focus our SEO efforts differently then in the past, we now have to dedicate ourselves to optimizing our SEO Strategy a little bit differently then we may have previously.
Google now wants us to focus our efforts on creating high quality content which provides value to our site visitors. They use several methods to determine quality, but social sharing is now a big part of it along with a few other new algorithm changes. By combining good content users want to read, share, and link to with a solid social media optimization strategy; you can find yourself reaping the benefits with higher Google Search Rankings and a huge boost in website traffic.
Here are a few Social Media Optimization Tips you can use to do this right now.
1. Establish and Use Google Authorship for Increased Google Author Rank
Google Authorship isn’t new, but what is new is the increased influence it has in search. More and more Google is using these tools to modify its search results and also push more users into Google Plus. Google Authorship is a connection between your personal Google Plus account and content you create/ author on the web. By doing this you are showing Google all the content you create and by doing this Google then can identify and “Rank” your content. This is where Author Rank comes in. Author Rank is the ranking Google gives to you based on the quality of content you produce and how it is received by users across the web. They use Google +1, Facebook Likes and Shares, Twitter Tweets, Blog Comments, and other shared linking types and the quality of the sites your content is published on in order to determine how valuable your content is. With this, they then can assign you a ranking based on your overall content production and the sites you have been associated with.
Establishing Google Authorship is relatively easy and you can actually see how to set it up here. The difficult part is increasing your Google Author Rank. This is why it is recommended to use Google Authorship selectively. Don’t just assign Authorship to everything you create or articles you publish. Think of Google Authorship as a resume or portfolio of your work. You want to present your best work so you can build a solid Author Rank versus a cluttered mess of non-essential content. Focus this on your best content as it will help boost your rank and authority and in return, the search ranking of your content itself. Plus, to increase this even more it is highly recommended that you seek out Guest Blogging/ Contributor writing opportunities on sites which relate to you and your content and have a high level of quality and authority themselves.
*One Note: With every instance Authorship is displayed in Google Search, you also get 2 additional linking opportunities to show off your authored content. Take notice in the images below. The link for “by Daniel Waser” links to his Google Plus Profile and the link for “More by Daniel Waser” links all other indexed content his authorship is associated with. This is a very powerful way to get even more of your content seen via Google Searches. You can see how successful each shared post is via Google Analytics or via other Google Insights.
This isn’t what some people would consider a social media optimization tip, but with its tight connection to Google Plus it is considered a must. If you are not using Google Plus and Google Authorship, you need to start right now.
*You can See Google Will Even Show Your Google Plus Profile Posts in Normal Search as Well (with Authorship):
2. Use Google Plus Itemprop and Rich Snippets (Microdata) Integration
Not commonly known, but very important just the same, Google Plus’ Itemprop API is Google’s answer to Facebook’s Open Graph (which we will talk about next). Google Itemprop allows you to show those who use Google +1, Google Plus Shares, and Google Plus users a specific representation of your site, posts and pages (which may or may not be different from your normal meta titles and descriptions). By doing this, you can customize exactly what is seen when your content is linked through the Google Plus Social Network in any way. Google also uses Itemprop Meta Tagging to read all types of data on your site and uses it to categorize and rank your content accordingly. They use Structured Data (also known as Rich Snippets (Microdata)) from Schema.org to categorize and identify your content in a very detailed manner.
You see, if you have Google +1 or Google Share buttons on your site and a visitor clicks on them, what they will see is your customized Itemprop output. If you are not using Itemprop, then Google Plus will share either your Facebook Open Graph Tags (if present), your Meta Title and Description Tags (if present), or they will take their best guess from your site content. You can see how this can be customized here: Google Snippets.
This allows you to show Google Plus your content in a very specific way which can be completely different from any other Social Network. This can be done for your content titles, description, images, videos, and much, much more. By not customizing and using this, you are allowing Google to choose for you.
Google Rich Snippets microdata allows you to take this even further by allowing you to give Google specific data about your content. This data is then used by Google to customize its search results and give users a better representation of your site and its content. By not using it, you allow Google to do this for you. *Test Your Rich Snippets, Authorship, and Itemprop output here: Rich Snippets Testing Tool.
By optimizing for Itemprop and Rich Snippets you can increase the number of relevant searches your content is in and increase your rankings in Google because of it. You can also show those who share and link to your content via Google Plus and +1 exactly what you want them to see with specific Calls to Action, Images, and Descriptions which can increase the sharing, traffic, and conversions of your content as well. This can drastically change the results you are receiving from your content right now.
3. Use Facebook Open Graph Integration
Facebook Open Graph Integration with your website allows you to be selective in how you present your content to Facebook Users and it allows you to also broadcast selective content to Google as well. Very much the same as Google Itemprop above, Facebook Open Graph allows you to customize what is shared from each one of your posts and pages. It also allows you to integrate your website into Facebook Insights for enhanced social sharing analytics via your personal Insights Dashboard so you can see the social signals and traffic your site has generated via Facebook.
Because Google also reads the Facebook Open Graph API, you can use its output to customize Google Plus social sharing results if you want them to be the same, but remember, the Graph API is still much different from Google Itemprop and can be customized in different ways, including Rich Snippets.
The big thing Open Graph is now effecting is Facebook Graph Search. With the new Facebook Graph Search function users can search through Facebook and find your indexed and shared Facebook Open Graph customized content. With this, it is even more important than ever before to create highly customized output for each of your shareable posts and pages in order to maximize their effectiveness when being shared socially via the Facebook Like, Share, direct linking, or any other Facebook sharing entity. What users see impact if they click and convert. With titles, descriptions, images, videos, and much more being customizable it is an essential part of your social media optimization strategy to create custom calls to action in your Facebook Open Graph optimized content.
When it comes to Social Media Optimization Tips, this is one you don’t want to ignore.
4. Use Twitter Card Integration
90% of Twitter users don’t know what a Twitter Card is and they don’t care. This is why you should. It is a wide open market on a new technology that only the big boys are currently using. Most Twitter users are completely happy with their 140 character limited conversations, but now with Twitter cards you have the ability to use any of the 7 Twitter Card Types to expand the reach of your content and its visibility on Twitter. Twitter Cards allow you to showcase your content, images, products, and video to Twitter users in much the same way you can with Google Itemprop and Facebook Open Graph. This allows you to customize exactly what Twitter Users see in the exact same way as the other services with Customizations just for them so your calls to action are well defined for that particular audience.
5. Use a Defined Hashtag Strategy
Now that Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter all use Hashtags in their post content it is crucial for you and your business to adopt a well defined Hashtag implementation strategy which helps Brand you, your business, and your business keyword objectives. Hashtags can help refine searches and bring your socially shared content to those who want to see it faster than ever before. Using the simple “#” number sign in front of keywords in your posts will give you access to traffic you may have not previously been able to reach. We are using #wpsocial to define our content in specific posts to increasing branding and recognition. Unique use of hashtags is much better than hashtag spam which simply creates a mess. Focus users in on you and your content and reap the benefits of a defined strategy versus a machine gun approach. It will pay off. Take a look at our previous post about this here: Facebook #Hashtags.
Optimizing how you present your Social Media SEO and Social Media Signals which are output from your website is a critical element in the success of your business. Allowing Google and other Search Engines; not to mention Social Networks, dictate how your content is delivered, quantified, indexed, and shared is like allowing a waiter to decide what you are going to eat at your favorite restaurant. It isn’t something you would ever do, so why would you do it with your business? Start Optimizing your site for Social Media SEO now.
***Share this Content with Your Friends and Fans Now and See How We Customized the Shared Output for Each Social Network’s Title, Description, and Images.